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Endometrial cancer raises risk of colorectal cancer

Monday November 5, 2012
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Women diagnosed with endometrial cancer before age 50 had a "marked increased risk" of being diagnosed with colorectal cancer, according to a study.

Researchers at the University of Manitoba in Canada linked several longitudinal databases routinely collected in Manitoba, including the Manitoba Cancer Registry and some Manitoba Health databases. The researchers followed 3,115 women diagnosed with endometrial cancer between 1987 and 2008 and 15,084 age-matched controls up to December 2009.

Women younger than 50 in the cohort at the time of diagnosis of endometrial cancer had approximately quadruple the risk of being subsequently diagnosed with colorectal cancer as compared with age-matched women in the general population. The risk was even higher (sevenfold) for colorectal cancers occurring in the upper part of the colon. There was no increased risk for colorectal cancer among women diagnosed with endometrial cancer at age 50 or older.

In the United States, endometrial cancer is the most common cancer found in women’s reproductive organs. A woman’s chance of having this cancer during her lifetime is about one in 38, according to the American Cancer Society.

"This study suggests there is an increased risk of colorectal cancer after a diagnosis of endometrial cancer among young women," Harminder Singh, MD, MPH, an investigator on the study and a gastroenterologist, said in a news release. These patients need close follow-up, particularly for colorectal cancers occurring in the upper part of the colon. "Colorectal cancer screening should start at a younger age in such women," Singh said.

The study was presented Oct. 22 in Las Vegas at the American College of Gastroenterology’s annual conference.

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